Miles Away Episode 15: Turning a Layover Into the Perfect Beach Day in LA
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Miles Away turns 15 today! Well, 15 weeks, at least. But hey, I’ll take it — that’s a big milestone in the wild world of podcasting, and it wouldn’t have been possible without your support!
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With that out of the way, this week we’re talking about a fun alternative to wasting the day away from the terminal on your next layover at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). As I discovered, with the help of travel legend Johnny Jet, there’s a fun, sunny alternative just a few miles away: Manhattan Beach.
Johnny, a Manhattan Beach resident, shares some of his favorite eateries and activities, from wandering down The Strand at sunset enroute to the town’s famous pier, to getting your grub on at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, where you’ll even see Johnny’s picture on the wall.
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Zach Honig: Welcome back to Miles Away, this is your host Zach Honig. Today I’m sitting down with travel legend Johnny Jet. Welcome, Johnny.
Johnny Jet: Thanks for having me.
Zach Honig: How’s it going? Welcome to Manhattan.
Johnny Jet: It’s nice to be back, although I wish it was summer or spring or fall.
Zach Honig: You are a brave man to come to New York City in winter especially from the Los Angeles area, I have to say.
Johnny Jet: I have to agree.
Zach Honig: So you live in a town called Manhattan Beach, which is pretty close to LAX, you were telling me.
Johnny Jet: It’s three to four miles away.
Zach Honig: Three to four miles away.
Johnny Jet: Very close.
Zach Honig: Means it’s a good destination for a quick visit.
Johnny Jet: I always tell people, if you’re flying through LAX, and everyone brags at LAX which I think they’re traffic is bad, but I do … I think LAX is getting better and better. The food is really getting much better, but if you have a three and a half hour layover or more and you’re going to Hawaii or Australia or Asia, wherever you’re going. Don’t stay in the airport. In the old days they had The Encounter restaurant, which was cool.
Zach Honig: Oh, yeah. I’ve always wondered what that … So that’s right in the middle between all the terminals. Right?
Johnny Jet: Yes.
Zach Honig: OK. It’s like a flying saucer.
Johnny Jet: Yeah and they closed it. Now they do it for private parties. You know that was worth hanging out and checking that out, but if you have a long layover, get out. Get out of the airport and it’s so cheap especially these days with UberX or Lyft. And actually the tip for that is sometimes if the traffic is bad, they’ll say it’s coming in 17 minutes just cancel right away and keep redoing it.
Zach Honig: I just did that. Yeah. So I figured that out on my own. I was passing through LAX. I had, some people say layover, there’s a few hours of layover, 24 hours can be a layover. I had an overnight stay, so I decided that we were gonna spend the day at Disneyland. And so we were on our way to Kauai and there are no non-stops yet. I’m hoping someday, maybe, we’ll have a non-stop from the New York area to Kauai ’cause it’s my absolute favorite island in Hawaii. But we had enough time that we said, “You know what, we’re during the week. Let’s go down to Disneyland,” and Disneyland’s in Anaheim. So it’s a little bit more of a hike than Manhattan Beach but you can-
Johnny Jet: Oh, it’s much more of a hike. That’s at least an hour.
Zach Honig: Yeah. Well, so we got in late at night. I think it took 40 minutes-
Johnny Jet: Forty minutes?
Zach Honig: Yeah. Forty minutes or so. But I used that trick because I’ve had varying success with ride sharing at LAX. Sometimes I’ve … There’s been some scams over the years too with Lyft. Someone will accept the ride and then they just don’t show up. They don’t answer the call and they expect you to cancel so they can collect the fee. That’s definitely one of the common scams.
Johnny Jet: Well then you go in there and you … Lyft and Uber make it difficult to complain, but you can go in to the little hamburger and hit the help and then say I’m not paying this fee.
Zach Honig: Right, right. And that’s what I’ve done. But if you do find that this has … OK, two, three minutes you’ll have a car and then you get the up to twenty minute wait, cancel, get another and you’re on your way.
Johnny Jet: Exactly. That’s what I do. Also, if you’re going to Manhattan Beach, by the way, a lot of times the drivers gonna say, “Where you going?” So if you say, “Manhattan Beach,” they’ll tell you they’re not gonna go and they cancel on them. So don’t you cancel, because then you get charged. You let them cancel, which they do … But, actually I met with someone from Uber and they said, “Just tell them that you’re going to LA.” And the once you get in the car, you tell them you’re going to Manhattan Beach.
Zach Honig: Right.
Johnny Jet: Because I really don’t blame them because it’s not a long drive, it’s 15 minutes tops. Could take you 12 minutes and they’re upset when they’ve been waiting or whatever. They want a big ride. So another way to cure it by the way, is just hand them a five dollar bill. Right when you get in. And that makes them very happy.
Zach Honig: Right, like “OK, fine. Manhattan Beach, here we go.” So Let’s talk about some of the neighborhoods that you would recommend for a layover. I mean, a three-hour layover is pretty common. Especially if you’re going to Australia, you wanna make sure that you have a little bit of a buffer time. Especially if you’re flying out from the East Coast in winter, you can end up with a delay with your East Coast flight. Makes sense to build in a few hours just in case.
Johnny Jet: For sure. So it all depends what kind of luggage you have, actually, otherwise, I say, if you wanna go down to the beach if it’s a nice day … While you were there it was cold and rainy I-
Zach Honig: Yeah, yeah. It was pretty brutal that week I think.
Johnny Jet: I don’t … Manhattan Beach is not fun when it’s cold and raining. And it’s very, very rare that it happens so if it’s a nice day, just go down. I recommend getting on the beach or renting a bicycle and riding along the strand. You can ride all the way to Santa Monica, but you have to go around Marina Del Ray, which is kind of a pain ’cause you’re on the road for about a quarter of a mile. But there’s a bike path. But, other than that, you can ride along the beach the whole way and it’s beautiful.
Zach Honig: And you can take those scooters now too, right? They are the Bird-
Johnny Jet: You know what, the Bird’s not in Manhattan Beach.
Zach Honig: Oh, really?
Johnny Jet: Yeah, they’ve now allowed them, but in Santa Monica, there’s tons of them. And Venice. So you could go down there and grab one of them. And I’ve seen a couple Birds in line bikes in Manhattan Beach but they’re not stationed there. I think people are just dropping them off.
Zach Honig: OK, so you might get lucky and get one, but don’t expect to find it.
Johnny Jet: Yeah, right.
Zach Honig: So you’re upgrade minded like I am and so I typically take a very early morning flight, at least from the East Coast, going west, 6am out of Newark. I’m a United guy. You fly American. Better chance of an upgrade than like a 7am, 8am, 9am flight. ‘Cause with business travelers don’t wanna leave home at 3:30 in the morning.
Johnny Jet: That’s why I took a 6am flight this morning from LA ’cause I got … and I got upgraded. But what you can do, if you’re going on a leisure trip or you’re going on a business trip to Australia, New Zealand, is take that early morning flight out of the East Coast, get your upgrade and then you’ll have the day to explore Los Angeles.
Zach Honig: For sure.
Johnny Jet: So then you actually might even wanna get a day room. And there are websites out there that will book a room by the day. So you don’t have to spend the whole … buy the whole night. The best hotel in Manhattan Beach is Shade. S-H-A-D-E. Shade Hotel. It’s a small boutique, luxury hotels, solid four stars, but it’s essentially located right by the beach. Two and a half blocks from the beach and they give you bicycles for free so you don’t even have to rent one. And you can ride along the strand, you can go the other way. I said go to Venice, but if you go the other way toward Torrance and Redondo Beach you’re really not on the street for more than a couple hundred yards.
Zach Honig: If you’re going to Manhattan Beach, what are a couple must-visit spots?
Johnny Jet: Well the pier is the focal point and it’s been on so many movies. The pier. But at the end of Manhattan Beach Pier is a aquarium. It’s a small aquarium but it’s fun for kids, so if you have little ones, they’ll definitely love it. Actually, I wrote a whole post on like where to eat breakfast, Uncle Bill’s is a famous pancake house. There’s also, I mean you can get acai bowls, really good acai bowls at, but it’s really … Some of them are really hidden. Manhattan Beach is known as the indoor and outdoor beach volleyball capital of the world. And I think it’s actually the surfing capital of the world which I always thought was Huntington Beach, but I read recently it was surfing in Manhattan Beach, or invented in Manhattan Beach.
Zach Honig: So on your way to Oahu to do some North Shore surfing, you can pop over to-
Johnny Jet: Oh, I’d much rather, I’m not a big surfer, but if I’m gonna surf, it’s not gonna be in Manhattan Beach. I don’t like cold, dark, deep water. I like shallow, see-through, and warm. And I don’t like sharks and there are a lot of sharks below the pier in Manhattan Beach.
Zach Honig: So you mentioned the pancake house was Bill’s?
Johnny Jet: Uncle Bill’s pancake house. My picture is on the wall actually if you. Right when you walk in you’ll see me on the right.
Zach Honig: How do you get your picture on the wall at Uncle Bill’s?
Johnny Jet: You gotta eat a 20-stack. No I’m kidding. I’m kidding.
Zach Honig: 44, right?
Johnny Jet: You know, I just went there so often I … For so long I was single and I do not cook and I would just go there every day and I became a local.
Zach Honig: All right. Very cool. So get your picture next to Johnny’s picture at Uncle Bill’s.
Johnny Jet: Yeah.
Zach Honig: Any other restaurants.
Johnny Jet: Yeah, so Petro’s is a really good Mediterranean restaurant. They have the best arugula salads and whatever the … They put a fruit in there, whatever the season is, it’s either cantaloupe or peaches. They even do a fig. I love that and their watermelon salad is amazing. Dinner, you want to go to The Strand House. It has the best view. It’s right on the corner. You know, if you wanna go to some real local pubs, they have those too. Ercoles. I’ve seen some big time celebrities in there before. They’re just hanging out. It’s really casual.
Zach Honig: Very cool. I’ve seen your sunset pictures on Instagram. Whenever I see a sunset picture in LA, I assume it’s one of yours ’cause you are … It seems like you are always on the beach when you’re not on the road.
Johnny Jet: Well, I love it. Being on the beach at sunset is a special thing, and you know when you go to Hawaii and other destinations like that, when it’s sunset everyone stops, and they just witness … It’s a miracle.
Zach Honig: Yeah, yeah. We don’t have sunsets like that in Manhattan. This Manhattan. Unless you happen to be flying and you’re just above the clouds. Then you can catch a glimpse of the sun.
Johnny Jet: That’s right. That’s very true.
Zach Honig: So say I have a little bit longer to spend. I’m staying overnight or maybe I do take that morning flight out and I have a full day what other neighborhoods would you …?
Johnny Jet: Well, if you’ve never been to LA before you’re definitely gonna wanna see Santa Monica or Venice. That’s what everyone knows and man, if you have an overnight you can do anything. You could do Hollywood. Although, I think Hollywood’s … It’s not my favorite place but it’s something that you do need to see once in your life. So you could consider those destinations all really what you really want. You can even go to Disneyland like you did. So, but if you’ve been to southern California many times, you just want something that is relaxing so Santa Monica, Shutters on the Beach, if you have some money that’s a really …
Zach Honig: I’ve walked by it before. I don’t know if that counts for anything.
Johnny Jet: Well, Shutters is a special place.
Zach Honig: Clicked my shutter in front of Shutters.
Johnny Jet: And in Santa Monica, they have the pier which is, you’ve definitely seen this in every movie and TV show. So they’ve a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, they have all kinds of games. It’s the actually … The end of Route 66 so there’s a big sign saying, “This is the end of Route 66.”
Zach Honig: OK.
Johnny Jet: Not a lot of people don’t know about it, but there is a sign. It’s not a big sign, but there is a sign.
Zach Honig: What time of year do you recommend for a visit to the beach in LA?
Johnny Jet: The best time of year in southern California, even northern California I would say is September, October and even early November and that’s because you don’t get a lot of rain. It’s dry. It’s clear. It’s warm. And there’s not a lot of tourists. Well I wanna take a quick break and then we can talk a little bit more about the hotels and flight options. Things like that.
Zach Honig: Stay tuned.
Zach Honig: We are back on Miles Away with Johnny Jet. Johnny, where can people find you? And I’ll bring this up again at the end, but I love following you on Instagram, in particular.
Johnny Jet: Well thank you. I love following you. So Johnny Jet, J-O-H-N-N-Y J-E-T, only one T. I’m not related to Joan, unfortunately. You actually might be too young to even know who Joan Jett is, are you?
Zach Honig: No, I mean I’ve heard of Joan Jett.
Johnny Jet: OK. Also, my websites johnnyjet.com and all my social handles are Johnny Jet.
Zach Honig: Very cool. If you’re looking for more Manhattan Beach content I would definitely start there. I think that would … Some sunsets or do we have any short stacks of pancakes?
Johnny Jet: Yeah. I’ve got a big stack.
Zach Honig: Alright.
Johnny Jet: But you know, speaking of food, if you do have a layover at LAX, a short one, you have to go to In-N-Out Burger.
Zach Honig: Yeah, this is one … Probably the most famous In-N-Out in the world.
Johnny Jet: Without a doubt. And you post that on your Instagram you’ll definitely get a lot more likes than you usually do because it, for some reason, everyone loves a Double Double at In-N-Out and plains. And, I’m one of them. And then I always bring … I download the app FlightRadar24. You could see where the planes are coming from and you know in advance. I always tell people, “Hey, here comes a big Korean Air 3 … A380” and they’re like, “How do you know?”
Zach Honig: Yeah, how do you know?
Johnny Jet: I’m just like, “I’ll bet you 10 bucks.” And then you walk across the parking lot and
Zach Honig: You never pay for another burger.
Johnny Jet: That’s right. Actually if you do ever park there, you gotta be careful about the parking signs at LA … at In-N-Out. I got a $90 parking ticket for just running in. So it’s a scam. A total scam. It’s a whole ‘nother thing.
Zach Honig: Another episode.
Johnny Jet: Yeah, but just … It’s a warning. I will save you guys some money because they do … It’s a total scam. It looks like you can park there, but you really can’t.
Zach Honig: Yeah. We went to this town that was just South of LAX. I don’t know if you can-
Johnny Jet: El Segundo?
Zach Honig: Oh, yes. That’s what it was. I was thinking-
Johnny Jet: I mean that’s right next to LAX.
Zach Honig: Right next to LAX. So that’s another potential stop.
Johnny Jet: Oh, if you’re looking for some Mexican food and you don’t have too much time, they have hole in the walls, they have a really nice Mexican restaurant too. Spacin’ on a name right now, but it’s a gourmet … There’s also a Rock & Brews, which there was actually a Rock & Brews in the airport, as well. I think in Terminal 5 and that’s run by a former Kiss, actually ex-Kiss singer and band member and they’ve really good food. And in El Segundo. I love it. Really kid-friendly.
Zach Honig: Are there any good restaurants in the airport? I mean, I know that you … ?
Johnny Jet: Totally. There really are. I mean, LAX is really brought in local stuff. My favorite was the Kogi Taco truck. Kogi, K-O-G-I. He’s a guy who really mainstreamed food trucks. It was his taco truck. The only way you’d follow them is by Twitter, and they would tell you where they’re gonna be that day. And so, he’s one of just … The whole thing happened because of this guy, but they took it out of Terminal 4. They only do like six-month leases. It’s ridiculous.
Zach Honig: Wow that’s pretty-
Johnny Jet: There was always a long line for that and my wife actually switched from Air Canada to American just so she could get …
Zach Honig: Really?
Johnny Jet: … Kogi tacos before we flew. But now there’s other food trucks there and there’s never a line.
Zach Honig: There’s some near Tom Bradley, right? That kind of park in that area too?
Johnny Jet: You know, I haven’t seen those but Tom Bradley has good food. Tom Bradley International Airport is my favorite terminal. That terminal is … I mean, the spent billions on it and it is off the hook.
Zach Honig: Yeah, and now you can actually get there from other terminals at the airport. So they have a connector.
Johnny Jet: For sure. From American … So actually they didn’t have a TSA pre. I think they do now, but I would go though
Zach Honig: A few weeks ago they-
Johnny Jet: I would go through American’s and just walk the five minutes and that way you’d save a lot of time.
Zach Honig: But yeah, if you do have a layover, but it’s not long enough to go to Manhattan Beach you can go to El Segundo. If you don’t have enough time for that, maybe consider walking over to Tom Bradley.
Johnny Jet: Yeah, for sure. And actually your ticket will get you in any terminal at LAX. A lot of people don’t realize that. They think that you can only go to the terminal that you’re flying out of, but that’s not true.
Zach Honig: And in some airports they will give you a hard time about that, but I’ve never gotten a hard time at LAX.
Johnny Jet: Agreed. And also a hidden gem for AvGeeks, that a lot of people don’t know about, that’s near LAX. It’s on the opposite side of In-N-Out, it’s called The Proud Bird. And they have all these old planes out front, out in the back, and the real planes are landing right over them and so if you’re flying into LAX, and you sit on the left-hand side, you’ll see The Proud Bird. If you sit on the right-hand side you’ll see the In-N-Out Burger.
Zach Honig: OK. Is it a fried chicken restaurant?
Johnny Jet: They have everything. So now they have pizzas. The best thing about The Proud Bird is they have BBQ and there’s a place, famous restaurant, in Compton that’s now there and you can get this BBQ without going to Compton.
Zach Honig: Ah, very cool. Right. So we mentioned the only thing, well the one thing to really not like about LAX, let me rephrase that, is the traffic. It’s crazy. I mean, you can get very close to the airport but once you’re within a half mile and maybe even less you just don’t move.
Johnny Jet: Well, especially during busy times. Like this morning, I did not have to do the arrivals trick. And that is, and unfortunately Uber and Lyft can not go to arrivals to drop you off.
Zach Honig: They’re really, really strict about it too.
Johnny Jet: They are. So they’ll get a $1000 fine. But if you’re having a private car take you and there’s a backup at departures, which there is often, just ask them to drop you off at arrivals and you just take the escalator or the elevator up and it will save you at least 15 minutes of your life.
Zach Honig: So my trick has been to walk. Which I know you can’t really walk to Manhattan Beach, I mean you could. It would be a long walk.
Johnny Jet: I’ve actually done it once before.
Zach Honig: You have done it? OK. But if you’re up for a short walk, I like to stay at the Hyatt Regency which is because it’s the closest airport hotel but it’s just about a ten minute walk from … Well from the farther terminals, actually. So you can get to Tom Bradley even, maybe in 15
Johnny Jet: Southwest is right there in Terminal 1.
Zach Honig: Oh, yeah. Five minutes maybe.
Johnny Jet: Right.
Zach Honig: And they always have award availability too, which is something that we focus on a lot.
Johnny Jet: That’s good.
Zach Honig: So and it’s a Category 3, if I recall. So I think it’s 12,000 points per night but you can actually use your free-night certificates with the Hyatt Card, as well.
Johnny Jet: You gotta love that.
Zach Honig: Yeah, and especially somewhere where the rates can vary a ton in Los Angeles, in general, but especially at the airport. I’ve found that rates range from maybe $100, even at the higher-end hotels for like a Sunday night, to $300-$400 dollars even during the week.
Johnny Jet: Yeah, it all depends if there’s a big conference in town they will just skyrocket.
Zach Honig: Yeah.
Johnny Jet: Or if it’s again, summer, busy time.
Zach Honig: So that’s been my solution though, is just pick an airport hotel. Usually the Hyatt Regency, even though I’m mostly a Marriott guy. I will make an exception for the convenience. And then, if you get a car to pick you up at the hotel, they don’t have to wait in traffic at all.
Johnny Jet: Yeah, and also you save the $4 LAX fee that they charge.
Zach Honig: Then you don’t have to wait. So that 15 minutes I could normally spend waiting for a car to pick me up, I’ll use that to walk to the hotel, spend the night there and then you can kind of use that as your home base for your layover in Los Angeles.
Johnny Jet: Well, the trick I used to do before Uber and Lyft were allowed to pick up at LAX, which has just happened the last couple of years, is I would just jump on the first car rental shuttle, give the driver a tip, go to that hotel, whatever hotel it is and have them pick you up there. And that’s what everyone was doing. And that’s why I think … The big reason why they probably did allow Uber and Lyft to come in, because they knew they couldn’t stop that.
Zach Honig: Well they still don’t crack down on the shuttles. You can say “Oh, I don’t have a reservation yet.” I’m gonna go check out your selection or something like that and they’re not …
Johnny Jet: Well the one shuttle is the parking spot. There’s two parking spots and the parking spot on Sepulveda is the one next to In-N-Out Burger. And so they … I think they’ve cracked down on that because they know that everyone wants to go to In-N-Out.
Zach Honig: Right. In-N-Out should maybe operate a shuttle. I wonder if they’ve … If you guys are listening-
Johnny Jet: That’s brilliant. No matter what time of day you drive by In-N-Out there is a huge line for takeout and, actually, just to go in.
Zach Honig: So right. When people ask about hotels, I know you live in Los Angeles, and I face this all the time living in New York, my friends and family, mostly friends are like, “Hey, I’m coming to the city. First, can I crash with you, if not where should I stay?” And, to be honest, I don’t know. I live in New York. I stay in my apartment. What do you recommend as hotel options in the LA area?
Johnny Jet: Well for near the airport, my favorite is Shade, which is in Manhattan Beach, but also Manhattan Beach has a Sea View Inn which is half the price of Shade. Also in-
Zach Honig: Is that like a motor lodge?
Johnny Jet: No, it’s not a motor … It’s two blocks from the beach. And it’s kind of like old school, but it’s nice. I mean my parents stayed there when they would come out and you can get it for $139 a night. Shade is going to be at least $279 a night. Also, the Westdrift is a Marriott hotel and it used to be the Marriott but now they changed it to Westdrift which is one of their brands. And that’s a nice hotel too, but it’s about a mile and a half or two miles from the beach.
Zach Honig: OK.
Johnny Jet: But keep that in mind, especially if you have Marriott points. That’s a good option. And then another one is called Belamar, The Belamar. B-E-L-A-M-A-R. And, that’s about a mile from the beach and the professional soccer teams stay there.
Zach Honig: Very cool. As you work your way up the beach too, you get more chain options obviously. There’s a Ritz-Carlton a little-
Johnny Jet: Marina Del Ray.
Zach Honig: Marina Del Ray.
Johnny Jet: Yes. Exactly.
Zach Honig: Yeah, that’s the high-end for sure.
Johnny Jet: For sure and that’s where all the professional athletes used to stay. Some of them still do.
Zach Honig: OK.
Johnny Jet: Now because they built LA Live, they usually stay the Ritz-Carlton downtown. LA Live actually … When there’s the Grammys, they all stay there ’cause …
Zach Honig: There’s a JW Marriott and a Ritz-Carlton right there together, right?
Johnny Jet: They’re connected. Actually I was at the JW. I co-hosted a party the other night with Samantha Brown.
Zach Honig: And then there’s a new Intercontinental downtown as well, which I think has some affiliation with Korean Air.
Johnny Jet: They do. Korean Air, they own it.
Zach Honig: OK.
Johnny Jet: And that’s the highest, I believe, it’s the highest building west of the Mississippi.
Zach Honig: You can see it very clearly when you come in. It has the Korean Air logo, actually, on it. On the side of the building.
Johnny Jet: Yep, and it’s a beautiful hotel. I went to the grand opening for that one.
Zach Honig: So if you’re coming in, and you want one of those amazing views of the new Korean Air tower, downtown LA, you wanna sit on the right side of the plane. Right? The starboard side?
Johnny Jet: That all depends. If you’re coming in usually before 6am, the flights are coming in over the ocean or after midnight.
Zach Honig: To avoid noise.
Johnny Jet: Or if it’s raining. If it’s bad weather, like when you were there.
Zach Honig: We did come over the ocean.
Johnny Jet: And that’s … And I love that ’cause you can … Just really good planespotting. If you wanna-
Zach Honig: From the ground? Is that-
Johnny Jet: Yeah.
Zach Honig: But if your flying then you don’t … You lose out all the-
Johnny Jet: Well I do love that when you’re coming from Hawaii. So if you take a red eye from Hawaii, you’re gonna save at least ten minutes because you’re gonna land over the water instead of going around. So keep that in mind. So, when you do come in to LA its usually on the left when you’re coming from New York
Zach Honig: Right.
Johnny Jet: You’ll see it
Johnny Jet: It all depends on the runway and actually if you look on the right you’ll see the new stadium.
Johnny Jet: Yeah you get almost like a helicopter tour of LA when you come in just ’cause you pass so many sites. Definitely get a window seat.
Zach Honig: I love it.
Zach Honig: And speaking of flights, there are a ton of options. Obviously every airline flies through Los Angeles. And most international carriers do as well if they fly to the US, they’ve got an LA flight as well.
Johnny Jet: They do and that’s one of the great things about LA. I was just speaking in San Diego and I was telling people, if you wanna fly non-stop from San Diego to London, it’s like $1700, but if they just drove up to LA, you could fly a non-stop flight for $400 because there’s so much competition going out of LA.
Zach Honig: Oh, yeah.
Johnny Jet: So always think about buying two different tickets if you’re flying somewhere-
Zach Honig: Like comparison shopping-
Johnny Jet: Yeah and alternate airports obviously.
Zach Honig: Yeah, I know. And so, basically, LAX is kind of the go-to stop way, midway point if you’re going to a pacific destination. So Australia, New Zealand-
Johnny Jet: Hawaii.
Zach Honig: Hawaii, Tahiti-
Johnny Jet: Figi.
Zach Honig: Figi, you’re probably gonna connect somewhere on the West Coast. Either San Francisco or Los Angeles and the weather, especially recently in San Francisco, has been kind of crazy and so I would probably choose LA-
Johnny Jet: I’m with you. I avoid SFO. If I’m flying to SF or San Francisco area I would try to fly to Oakland because the weather is, even though it’s twenty miles away, the weather’s so much better. You don’t have to worry about the fog and getting delayed and things like that.
Zach Honig: But you have unlimited points and miles options when it comes to flights to Los Angeles but the fares are really, really good. I mean they’re very low.
Johnny Jet: I rarely use my miles and points to LA because of that reason. It just doesn’t make sense because they are so low.
Zach Honig: Its trans-con flights, as long as you book a couple weeks in advance, or at least a couple weeks, you can get $300 or so round-trip. Which is from New York, or Philadelphia, or Boston or Washington DC.
Johnny Jet: Even last-minute sometimes you’ll be surprised. I was in Vegas this week and I looked for the same-day Vegas-LA $49. It was cheaper than what I paid two weeks in advance.
Zach Honig: Right, right.
Johnny Jet: So always look at that.
Zach Honig: Very good fares and then just keep in mind that some airlines have the basic economy fares and they like to throw that on first.
Johnny Jet: Sure do-
Zach Honig: For trans-cons flights-
Johnny Jet: And actually that was … That $49 was a basic economy and when I was boarding the flight, I noticed on American, they have nine different zones and that, not including ConciergeKey. So the first eight, there’s not many people. I was like, “What’s going on?” and then, all of a sudden, Zone 9, everyone got up.
Zach Honig: Yeah, they wanna make you feel bad about it.
Johnny Jet: So in Zone 8, “Oh, we don’t have anyone else, we’ll wait five minutes and then the rest of you can board.” But all basic economy fares are not created equal either.
Zach Honig: They’re not.
Johnny Jet: The price may be identical, but do some research to see and Google Flights will kind of make it clear what’s included but you wanna go with Delta obviously over American. American over United just because you get more inclusions.
Zach Honig: You do.
Johnny Jet: Carry-on bag, things like that.
Zach Honig: Agreed. What about, I just wanna touch on downtown LA a little bit. We talked about LA Live. It’s becoming more of a, I don’t know, a tourist destination but a lot of the locals are choosing to live in downtown Los Angeles.
Johnny Jet: Yeah. I’ve been in LA for 25 years and, when I first moved there, you would not go downtown. And then when they built this LA Live, it’s like the place to be. And the housing prices have skyrocketed. They have the Lakers, LeBron James, the Clippers, there’s always something going on. The Grammy Museum is down there. There’s a … whatever they’re hosting some big event, it’s usually down there. That’s why the JW and the Ritz-Carlton … And these are some really good people-spotting during those award seasons.
Zach Honig: Do you recommend it for someone with a layover? Should you go to … at what point does a visit to downtown LA make sense?
Johnny Jet: I mean, living down by the beach, I still don’t like going downtown just because it’s-
Zach Honig: It’s a hike too, right?
Johnny Jet: Well actually, it’s 18 minutes from the LAX if there’s no traffic and that’s a big if. But 18 minutes you could really make it there, no problem, if you also wanna get a toll tag so that you can use the express lanes. But there are some really good restaurants down there and there’s stuff to do and see but it’s not like New York City. There’s no comparison.
Zach Honig: No, no, no.
Johnny Jet: I’d recommend the beach.
Zach Honig: For sure.
Johnny Jet: And I’ve gone … I’ve stayed in downtown LA a few times for conventions and things like that and it’s more appealing than you would expect, just because I don’t know anyone who’s gone there as a tourist, but there are some things to do. I would just focus more on the beach towns, I think for your first, second, third, fourth, fifth, twenty eighth visit to LA.
Zach Honig: Yeah, no actually I ask the flight attendants all the time where they prefer to stay. And ’cause sometime the airlines either put them up downtown or they put them up by the beach. And some of them surprisingly say downtown.
Johnny Jet: Really?
Zach Honig: Yeah, maybe they’re coming from smaller towns or something?
Johnny Jet: I don’t know, ’cause I’m like, really?
Zach Honig: Yeah, I don’t know about that. Well thanks again, Johnny. It’s been great having you on.
Johnny Jet: Hey, thanks for having me on.
Zach Honig: Just remind me where we can find you on social media.
Johnny Jet: Johnny Jet. J-O-H-N-N-Y J-E-T.
Zach Honig: Alright, well safe travels, sir.
Johnny Jet: You too.
Featured photo by LordRunar/Getty Images
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